Anti-Communism and High Schools
Communism's impact on children was a concern of many southern citizens and politicians. Many believed that communists were trying to infiltrate early education to influence children's thoughts on communism.
Parents and citizens became alert to potential communist influences. On December 11, 1945, the article "Principal Denies Weekly Is 'Red'" appeared in the Hattiesburg American. This article discussed a situation where a parent complained that "Hattiesburg high school students were being exposed to communistic and socialistic propaganda" in one of the supplementary reading materials, Weekly News Review.
In 1945, L.E. Faulkner, the vice-president of the Mississippi Central Railroad, sent a letter to the president of the board of trustees for Hattiesburg Public Schools in response to the Hattiesburg American article. The board member responded to Faulkner stating that the officials at the high school would not allow communism to be taught at the school. With a copy of the Weekly News Review in hand, Faulkner started researching and writing letters about the publication. He corresponded with Hattiesburg Public Schools' officials including Hattiesburg High School Principal J.T. Wallace. Wallace refuted all claims that the Weekly News Review promoted communist ideas or beliefs, and he defended the credentials of the history teachers who used the publications as supplementary materials in their classes.
Faulkner was certain that the publication exposed children to communism. Through his correspondence with the president of the Board of Hattiesburg Public Schools, Faulkner convinced him that the use of the publication should be discontinued. In addition, Faulkner contacted the National Economic Council, Inc, a conservative lobbying organization that created and distributed publications against communism, socialism, and the New Deal, to see if they had information on the political leanings of the editors of Weekly News Review. The NEC responded that they found that the publication was leftist propaganda and detrimental to high school students.
Due to the persistence of Faulkner, the Hattiesburg Board of Trustees voted in February 1946 to cease use of the Weekly News Review in Hattiesburg schools.
In 1964, Mississippi legislators passed a bill requiring high school students to complete a course on "the nature and threat of communism" before graduation. Prior to this bill, the Mississippi Department of Education desiminated information to teachers on how to teach communism to high school students.There was talk about starting an anti-communism institute for teachers, but this idea was never realized.